Tag Archives: Practice writing

Nano Day Six- First Draft

Time: 1986
Current Wordcount: 13,593

kids

None of us talked until we reached the street that lead to where Roseland lived. She pointed us in the direction of a steep paved hill and told us that we were almost to her home. As we passed a mint green house Roseland told us that the man who lived there owned many snakes. He sometimes would let the kids from the Ghetto to look at them. She said he had a gigantic python that he kept in a glass case that took up the size of a bedroom. Both Wendy and Angel seemed interested in seeing the snake, but I had no interest in snakes what so ever. When I was five my brother and I were playing at my aunt’s house. She lived in the small farm town of Durham that is an hour away from Ridgeville. Durham is hot and flat and dry and it is the perfect place for Rattlers. My aunt lived in this giant white farm-house that was far back away from the main road. Her mailbox was at the top of the road and it was about a five-minute walk to go and check the mail. My brother and I wanted to check the mail ourselves. It gave us a reason to get away from the grown-ups and there were some kids that live in a house that was once an old fire station. We had been trying for a week to convince these kids to let us come over so we could slide down the fireman pole that they told us was still in the house. We had been talking so much about how we were going to get them to invite us over that I hadn’t even notice when we got to the mailbox. I saw it from the corner of my eye so without even looking I turned to the mailbox and reached my hand up, but thank god my brother was looking and that he heard the rattle. Curled around the bottom of the mailbox was the hugest rattlesnake we had ever seen in our lives. It was fat and had its tail up rattling and its head was back. I don’t remember what happened after that because I was so scared that I blocked it out, but when I opened my eyes I remember seeing on of the teenage neighbor boys wheeling it away in a rusty old wheelbarrow. There was something sad about seeing its huge body tossed in the barrow with its long neck and head draped over the side lifeless and limp. My brother chased after the boy asking him if he could have it’s rattle. The boy said, no and pushed the snake up the dirt road. Before the snake was alive and huge and frightened and moving and then suddenly it wasn’t worth anything except for it’s rattle that showed how big and scary it once was. I don’t know why it made me feel sad. If it had bit me I could be dead. It was me or the snake. The river or my brother. The pills or my mother. No. It doesn’t work that way, it only works with living things facing living things.

“What’s a ghetto?” I heard Wendy ask.

“It’s what my mom and dad and all the other grown-ups call the place where we live.” Said Roseland.

“What does it mean?” Asked Angel.

“I don’t know.” Roseland shrugged. “I never asked. It’s just where we live.”

We reached the bottom to a point where the paved road curved off to the left and Roseland pointed toward a wide gravelly road to the right. We followed her along this road till we came to a large open clearing that had four houses that were in a kind of circle. In the center of all the houses was a giant garden with big leaves of vegetables. Big dark green leaves that were the size of my head with bright orange pumpkins and round yellow squash. In the center of the garden holding a green hose a very dark-skinned black woman was watering the plants. I figured that the woman was Roseland’s mother even though her mom was so much darker than her. The woman was wearing gold, brass, and copper colors. She had a long loose flowing dress that part of she had tossed over one arm so that she wouldn’t get mud on the bottom. Her neck was long and she had a pretty face and big eyes. I had never seen a black woman before except on t.v. and I had never seen a woman who looked like Roseland’s mother. Her skin was so dark and smooth and her hair wasn’t straight but round almost like a ball. I didn’t know how she could get her hair like that like it just grew that way.  She was really  pretty and had round cheeks and a round chin. She almost looked like a teenager. She looked bright  like a flower in all the colors that were around her. She looked over at us standing in the road staring at her. When she smiled I felt warm and safe deep inside. I felt like I was in love with Roseland’s mother even though I had not even talked to her yet. I just couldn’t imagine that anyone so pretty and with a smile that nice and good could possibly be a bad person. I wanted right at that moment for her to be my mother.

“Hey, Hon.” She called over to Roseland, “These your girls?”

“Mmmmhmm.” Roseland nodded.

“Give me a second. I need to turn off this water. I’ll be over to meet your friends before you rush them off into the house.” She stepped over a giant pumpkin and walked toward one of the houses to turn off the facet and then after wiping her hands on the skirt of her dress she walked toward us. The dress bounced up like small curling waves as she walked. She stood with her hands on her hips and smiled down at all of us. “So introduce me.”

“This is my mom.” Said Roseland reaching for her mother’s arm. “Mom, this is Angel, Wendy, and Brianna.”

“Hello girls.” She bent down and gave each one of us a hug. When she held me I could smell coco-butter and fresh dirt, and plants. She smelled like the earth and she was warm. It had been almost two years since I was hugged by my mother and I didn’t want her to let go of me. I wanted to cry and have her pick me up and hold me, but I couldn’t so I let go. She looked down at me like she knew like she felt how badly I wanted her to hold me. She brushed the bangs from my eyes.

“Look how long and tangled your hair is child. You look like a hippie.” She leaned down and kissed Roseland on the cheek. “Take your friend’s into the house your dad is making lasagna for dinner. I’ll be in in a second, I need to pick the last of the tomatoes. I hope you girls like your vegetables.” She said to us.

I could see Wendy wince, but she smiled because she was too afraid to say she didn’t ever in her life eat vegetables.

We followed Roseland toward one of the houses. They were all painted white and they all looked like they were falling apart kind of like Angel’s house except instead of broken down cars in the yards there were gardens, and porch swings and flowers growing out of anything that was once broken. The paint on all of the houses were chipped and peeling, but each house had bright curtains, that some looked like sheets or flags. Roseland’s house had rainbow curtains that were made from sheets. Little kids were playing and running around the houses and some people were sitting on a porch here or a porch swing there. Music was coming out of some of the houses. It sounded like someone was playing a guitar. As we walked up the wooden steps to Roseland’s porch we could hear music coming from inside her house. The door was open and Roseland had us take our shoes off before stepping on to the thick shaggy brown carpet. It was weird to me to take my shoes off and I could tell from the expressions on both Wendy and Angels faces that they didn’t think it was normal either. Roseland skipped into the kitchen yelling, dad. The three of us stood alone in the living room staring at all the things that were in the space. Everywhere there were plants. Hanging plants, big plants with fat leaves in giant clay pots, plants with flowers, plants that climbed up the wall; it was like a garden in the living room. They didn’t have a t.v. but they had a stereo with tons and tons of records. On the walls were pictures of people who I guessed were musicians, some I knew some I didn’t. There was a big picture of John Lennon wearing a shirt that said New York. I knew who he was. My dad used to listen to The Beatles all the time. I remember exactly when John Lennon died because it made my dad cry which I thought was really strange. I couldn’t understand why this man who my father never met in his life would make my father cry just because he died. He didn’t cry as hard as he did at my brother’s funeral and he didn’t cry at all at my mother’s, but John Lennon died before both of them so maybe my dad didn’t know much about dying then. I guess I could get it now. I think I would maybe cry if Madonna died, but I wasn’t really sure. There were also other musicians like Jimi Hendricks, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, all people I didn’t know until I saw the bright red jacket with gold zippers and the matching red pants that only went to his ankles and the white socks and his black shoes. I knew that the Michael Jackson poster had to belong to Roseland. I thought it was so cool that her parents let her put up her own decoration in the front of the house. Like you just knew she wasn’t just a kid in the house, but that it was her house too.

“Look at the rainbow.” Wendy whispered.

She was pointing at a rainbow that danced on the wall over the face the man with brown hair in The Doors poster. He had his hand out and open like he was holding something and the rainbow bounced from his hand to his face. It came from a prism that hung in the large front window. There were many prisms. I had always liked prisms, but my mom had said that she thought they were kind of tacky, but she let me have a tiny heart shaped one that I used to keep in my room. My dad forgot to pack it. I knew we were in a very different kind of home. It wasn’t just that Roseland was poor. I could tell she was poor and that most things in her house were old even the record player, but I had been in the houses of people that were poor before. Wendy was poor and she lived in a trailer, and Angel was poor I could tell even though I had never been in her house before, but it wasn’t about money. My parents had money, and we had once had a really nice house. My grandparents have a really nice house, and when my family was all together we always had new things. It wasn’t about money at all it was something else it was, but I didn’t know what to call it, like everything was taken care of everything was loved.

“This is my dad.” Roseland said as she came out of the kitchen followed by a man drying his hands on a towel.

“Hi there ladies. I hope you’re hungry.” He said smiling.

I couldn’t talk for a second and I hardly heard Roseland say all of our names. Roseland’s dad was white. It suddenly made sense why Roseland was not as dark as her mother. I had never seen a black woman before, but I had never in my whole whole life even heard of a black person marrying a white person. They never showed that on television. I wondered where they came from because I knew that there was no way that they came from these mountain towns. Her father was really tall and thin and he had long long blonde hair that went past his shoulders. It was like he had a woman’s hair and I remembered my dad once talking about hippies and saying that they wore their hair long. He had asked me if I would like him to grow his hair long and I said no, that long hair was supposed to be for girls. Roseland’s dad had really long hair that he pulled back into a braid.

“The lasagnas still cooking in the oven, but it won’t be too long before we eat. Roseland why don’t you give the girls a tour our home and The Ghetto.” He kissed the top of her head and then walked back into the kitchen.

Roseland lead us to a room way in the back of the house and opened the door. The walls were covered of pictures of Michael Jackson, a picture of Ralph Macchio, and a small photo from the movie The Explorers with the only boy I’ll ever love, River Phoenix. As soon as Roseland shut the door to her room Wendy almost exploded like her brain must have been on fire the whole time we were talking to Roseland’s dad.

“You’re a half-breed too!”

Even though I totally knew that Wendy didn’t mean to say something bad, I knew she said something bad. I think Angel knew too because she didn’t say anything. In fact, all three of us were quiet while we stared at Wendy who was still grinning, but also looked confused.

“Why do you say such stupid things sometimes?” Asked Roseland angrily.

Wendy stammered a little. “I… I don’t know. I just thought, but I’m that too.”

“I’m not like you.” Said Roseland. “My parents are together. We’re a good family.”

I could tell that Roseland must have heard things like that a lot, maybe even more than Wendy.

“Go easy on her Roseland.” I said, “She doesn’t know any better. She’s not trying to be mean. It’s not her fault. You don’t know.”

“I know that is isn’t right to call someone that.” She said. She had her arms cross tightly in front of her chest.

“I didn’t mean it bad.” Said Wendy. Her eyes started to look wet like she was about to cry.

“Wendy,” I said placing my hands on her shoulders and looking into her face. “Do you like it when people call you that at school?”

She shook her head no.

“So Roseland isn’t going to like it either. Think before you just yell stuff out.”

“But I didn’t mean it like that. I wasn’t trying to be mean or stupid.” She said, almost crying. “I just was happy I wasn’t alone. I thought maybe because if we were both like that and you’re family so good that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing and that all the kids at school were wrong about me, cause if your good and great than maybe that meant I was too. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m so stupid.” She turned toward the door. “I’ll go home. I’m sorry.”

“Stop. Stop.” Roseland ran after her. “It’s okay. I’m not mad.” Roseland grabbed her hand and smiled at her. “Sorry.” She hugged Wendy.

I sat down on Roseland’s bed and pulled at a tiny thread that was coming loose on her blanket. I didn’t know why the whole thing was making me feel uncomfortable. I wish I could stop Wendy before she talked sometimes, but Roseland seemed like she wasn’t mad anymore.

“Maybe it is a good thing.” Roseland said pulling away from Wendy and looking at her. “Like we’re special. Like we have super powers or something.”

Wendy smiled and wiped a tear from her cheek.

Angel had been standing in the corner watching all of us. She looked like she was kind of uncomfortable and kind of bored. She looked over my head to something on the wall.

“The Explorers.” She gasped. “I love that movie. River Phoenix is totally my favorite. Have you guys seen Stand by Me? That movie is so good. I totally fell in love with him in that movie. I’m going to marry him.”

Over my dead body. I thought. Now she was going to try and take my future boyfriend? No way.

“I have the movie on video if you guys ever want to come over and watch it some night. It’s totally, totally good.

NaNo Day 5- First Draft

Time: 1986
Current word count: 10,521

“I don’t know.” I whispered back.

“Listen, if you think you are takin’ a dig at me by sayin’ somethin’ about hippies you’re gonna have to try harder than that because that word doesn’t insult me.”

I almost grinned. Roseland was not about to let that Angel Rogers bully her. I was glad that Wendy wanted to talk to her and we had her on our side.

“Who said I was takin’ a dig?” Angel asked cooly. “I don’t give a crap if you find the word insulting or not. I just call things like I see ’em.” She tugged at the bow in her hair and tucked a few loose strands of her dark hair under her headband. “I happen to like to go down there in the summer to swim in the creek. My brothers and I are always playing down there. My brother Gunner likes to get his pot from some of the hippies that live around there. You ever smoke pot?”

“No.” Said Roseland with a snotty hint to her voice. “My mom doesn’t allow that.”

“That’s cool.” Said Angel and she pursed her lips together. “You must have a good mom.” Her eyes flashed over Wendy and me.

I felt heat rise in my face. I wanted Roseland to push her down so we could kick all the grass in her face.

“I do.” Said Roseland. “The best. I have the best mom in the world.”

I felt my heart sink a little at hearing Roseland say this. I wanted to have the best mom in the world. I wanted my mom. Best or worst I wanted my mom.

“Well, you’re lucky.” Angel said. Her face looked a little sad for a second, but it quickly changed as she moved onto a new subject. “Can I come over to your house too?”

No! I thought in my head no. No you can not come. Roseland doesn’t like you. Wendy doesn’t like you. People think you are a slut. Your family totally ruined my family. You’re not invited and not allowed.

“Yeah. Sure.” Roseland shrugged.

“What?” I couldn’t stop myself. Both Wendy and Roseland looked at me a little strange and I got that they didn’t understand why I wouldn’t want Angel around. How could they. “I mean… isn’t your mom going to get mad at you for bringing an extra person? I mean aren’t we having dinner?”

“I don’t have to eat.” Angel said.

“My mom doesn’t care. We’re a commune, so there’s always people coming over and sharing food, and eating stuff. We have a huge garden and goats.”

“You have goats!” Wendy nearly screamed.

“We’ll some of the people in the commune do, but they’re for everyone.”

“What’s a commune?” Wendy asked.

“It’s like when a bunch of different families live together and share everything, and take care of each other’s kids and stuff. And the adults play music and kids play together.” Roseland said.

“It sounds fund.” Wendy said.

“It kind of is, except I’m the oldest and most of the kids are babies so I have to watch them sometimes and the grown-ups are having more fun. I’d have fun but the oldest kid beside me is six and that’s just a baby. My brother is two years older, but he went to live with his dad.”

“She’s a vegetarian.” I said to Angel to try and get her to not want to come with us.

“What’s that?” She asked looking at me.

“I don’t eat meat.” Roseland said.

“You don’t eat meat?” Angel stared at Roseland with a confused look on her face. “Weird. But whatever.”

She was actually going to come with us. Angel Rogers the slut girl and person from the family that totally destroyed my family was going to come to dinner with my friends. What was she trying to do ruin my only friends’ lives too?

“Lemme put my book in my room and get my sweater. I’ll be right back.” She turned and ran toward her house the flat feet of her jellie shoes flashing neon green as she ran.

I turned to look at my friends. I had to end this right now. I could not allow Angel Rogers to invade our lives to ruin our reputations and our happiness. I had to tell them that she killed my family. Well she didn’t kill anyone, but I was sure that one of her brothers were responsible.

“I can’t believe the Angel Rogers wants to play with us!” Wendy nearly squealed.

“Who is she?” Asked Roseland.

“She’s totally popular.” Wendy began-

“Yeah, with the boys. Like all the boys.” I interrupted.

“True, but she’s so cool looking. She’s super pretty don’t you think?” Wendy looked in the direction of her house. “She the best dresser ever.” She sighed. “I totally wish I could have her clothes. I mean sixth graders never dress that cool. She’s like a high school dresser.”

“It’s just because she has older sisters.” I mumbled feeling a little jealous over Wendy’s adoration of my secret enemy.

“She does dress like Madonna.” Said Roseland with a shrug.

I was happy to see she was not as impressed.

“I know!” Wendy squealed again.

Angel came running back out holding her sweater in her hand.

“K. I’m ready.”

The four of us walked along the road. Wendy and Roseland walked on either side of Angel and asked her a ton of questions as I stayed behind them. I wasn’t really used to being the one that was in the back. When I had a lot of friends and was popular I was never in the back I was always the one that the kids wanted to talk to, and when I stopped having friends then I was just by myself leading and following. I was everything all at once. Then when Wendy became my friend it was like she was that Warner Brother’s cartoon where she was the little dog and I was Spike the bulldog. Then with Roseland it was still me in the center, but now… now this. I felt like these new friends were traitors. I kinda knew it wasn’t their fault how could they know what I felt or what had happened, but I couldn’t understand how they couldn’t see who she really was-she was a Rogers. A bad person, a slut, and trashy, and I secretly hated her. I hated that she was anywhere near me, and I hated that I loved her clothes.

“You have a brother?” Angel asked Roseland.

“Yeah.”

“So are your parents divorced?” She asked.

“No my parents are together. My brother has a different dad.” Roseland said.

“Me too!” Wendy yelled. She got easily excited. “My baby brother has a different dad too. I have two brothers. My older brother has the same dad as me. Well we don’t have a dad cause he’s dead, but my baby brother has a dad. I don’t like my baby brother.”

“Or his dad.” I muttered.

“I have brothers and sisters from different mom’s and dad’s too.” Angel said. “Only, my parents aren’t divorced.” She laughed a little which I thought was strange.

“What is the book you are reading?” Roseland asked.

“It’s called The Outsiders.”

“Wasn’t that a movie?” Wendy asked?

“Yeah, with the cutest boys ever. Matt Dillion. He’s super cute.” Said Angel.

“There were a lot of cute boys in the movie.” Said Wendy. “I didn’t know it was a book. Did you see that movie Brianna?”

“Yeah. Like a million times.” I mumbled.

“I’ve never seen it.” said Roseland.

“What?” Angel gasped. “How could you not see it. It’s like on cable all the time.”

“We don’t have a t.v. and I didn’t see it when it came out. I think my mom thought it was too violent. It’s about fighting right?”

“Kind of.” Said Angel. “I kind of think it might be about not fighting, but I was too stuck on watching the boys to think about it.”

“I cried.” Said Wendy. She curled her bottom lip under and shook her head at the memory of the scene in the movie where Johnny is in the hospital. I knew the scene. I had cried too.

“I’ve just started reading it. I’m only on the third chapter, but so far I really like it. The coolest part is that it’s a book about boys, you know teenage boys, and the main character, is fourteen so he’s like only two years older than us so like I can totally relate to some of the things, like the greasers and how their families are and stuff and being from the bad side of town and things like that, but the coolest part of it all is that it was written by a girl.”

“A girl?” Wendy asked.

“Yeah. A girl. A fifteen year old girl.” Angel said, nodding her head in that way when you’re so impressed you just nod your head.

“Fifteen?” I said out loud. “A girl?” I didn’t mean to be actually listening to her, but I had never heard of a girl writing a book before, especially a book about teenage boys. I mean if a girl who was only three years older than me could write a book then what could I do? What could we do?

“Isn’t that the coolest thing?” Said Angel.

“Wow.” Wendy looked dazed. “I wish I could do something like that.”

“What’s stopping you?” Asked Roseland. “Can you write?”

“Yeah.” Said Wendy shyly. “But, I can’t spell.”

“So what.” Said Angel. “Just write in your diary. You can write it like a book it doesn’t matter no one has to read it.”

“But, I’d want people to read it. Like they read The Outsiders.” She said sadly.

“We can read it.” I said, “And we don’t care about spelling.”

“Yeah. And maybe you can fix the bad spelling.” She clapped her hands together. “You guys are smart you can fix it.”

“Sure.” I said distracted.

I stopped following them. We were at the north gate of the Ridgeview cemetery. The three of them didn’t notice that I stopped and they continued walking a few feet before one of them turned around to look back at me. It was Roseland. She paused and stared at my face for a second before the other two stopped to turn and look at me.

“What’s the matter?” Wendy asked.

“Nothing.” My voice came out in a whisper and it sounded scratchy and tight like I had a sore throat. I couldn’t really think. I couldn’t move. They were in there both of them rotting. They were not mine anymore they were nothing they were dead. I hated them I hated the both of them rotting and stinking and filling up with air till they popped and splattered all over the fake silk material. My brother’s black material my mother’s white. How long before they were bones? Would it be a race? Did the young rot faster? Did the way a person die make them decompose faster. Would they have bugs and worms on them? Why’d we put them in those caskets? Why did we put them in this ground? Why couldn’t we have put them in the woods far away. Somewhere that I didn’t have to cut through in order to go to a friend’s? Why did he leave too?

I felt a hand on my arm. I looked up I didn’t know where I was, but I was looking into someone’s dark brown eyes. It took a minute for me to focus on the face. It was Angel.

“Are you okay?” Her voice was soft. “Is it because of your brother?” She whispered.

She knew. She knew he was here. Of course she knew. I remembered her now. I remembered seeing her all in black standing around his casket as they said empty prayers, and dropped dirt and flowers on his casket as my mother fell to the ground crying and my father tried to pick pull her up by her shoulders. Angel was there watching. She was there because it was her family’s fault. Her brother, who was alive and doing stupid things, her brother.

I threw her hand off my arm. “You don’t fucking know anything.” I yelled and then I stormed through the cemetery like I was a soldier.

I could feel them staring at me, but I didn’t care. If they wanted to be friends with her I didn’t care. I didn’t need anyone. I could be alone. I didn’t need them or her or him or anyone. I heard the sound of running behind me. All three of them ran till they caught up with me and then they fell back and walked in silence as we made our way to the other side of the cemetery. This time I was the leader. This was my war.

NaNo Day 4: The first draft

Time: 1986
Current word count: 8,574

lamaandthepuddle

“Do you guys wanna walk instead of taking the bus.” Roseland asked.

The three of us were standing with all the other kids waiting for buses to arrive. Some of the kids had backpacks on their backs others had them over one shoulder or another and some had their bags on the ground in-between their feet.

“It isn’t that far,” Roseland continued, “and if we cut across the cemetery it will be even shorter.”

I felt something like a heavy metal ball drop deep into my stomach and for a second I thought I was going to throw up. The cemetery by the school was the same cemetery where my brother and mother were buried. I had not been there since the day I threw dirt onto her casket and watched as they filled the hole. Her casket had been white and gold. No one not even Wendy knew that I never visited my mother’s grave. Wendy didn’t even know that my mother and brother were there. My face must have had a strange look because both Wendy and Roseland were staring at me.

“What’s the matter?” Wendy asked. “Are you afraid we will see a ghost?” She made a booing noise like little kids do when they are trying to be scary.

Honestly, yes I was afraid of seeing a ghost. Two ghosts, but I wasn’t about to admit that. I wasn’t about to admit anything.

“No. I’m not scared of anything. I just remembered I didn’t get my homework back from Mr. Thurman and I need it for a test.” It was a really weak excuse, but they both bought it.

“So, do you wanna walk?” Roseland asked again. “I just hate the bus especially after we pick up the junior high kids. There’s nothing worse than junior high kids.”

“No joke. They’re lame. Boys and girls” I said, agreeing with her completely. “Let’s just walk. Wendy?”

“Yeah. Let’s walk.” The three of us grabbed our bags and began to follow Roseland. “Do you guys have any money? Do you think we can get an ice cream cone at the Thrifty’s?”

“Ice cream? In October?” I said, looking at Wendy.

“Yeah. It’s not that cold yet.”

She was right. It wasn’t that cold yet. It didn’t really get cold until November around Thanksgiving. The October nights were cool and would continue to get colder as we moved closer to Halloween, but the days only had a slight chill. I felt like it was too much of a chill for ice cream, but Wendy and I had different blood, and I was pretty certain hers was a lot warmer than mine.

“The Thrifty is kinda outta the way.” Said Roseland.

“Oh. Okay.”

And that was the end of Wendy’s argument.

We walked along the side of the rode on the dirt and gravel sidewalks. We didn’t have real sidewalks like they did in cities, just little dirt paths created from kids walking on the side of the road for years. Sometimes we had to walk on the road because of a ditch or something, but it was usually okay and safe because there were never a ton of cars. We passed the trailer park near the school and as we rounded the corner we could see the Rogers’ house. It had a big front yard that was long and wide. The grass came right up to the street. The house was set far back away from the road. There was a long gravel driveway, but they had so many cars on the lawn it didn’t look to matter if a person used the driveway or not. The house was one story and it was white. It looked tiny compared to the lawn. It seemed like too small a house to have as many people as was in her family, but I had figured that people had to live how ever they could live, even the Rogers. I felt my lip curl a little in annoyance. I didn’t want to have any feel sorry thoughts for the Rogers. It seemed to me that if any one of them had been around when my brother died then they deserved all the hard luck and too small houses they could get. I didn’t feel sorry for them or their crummy lives. If their lives were crummy, and I hoped they were.

“Look,” whispered Wendy, “There’s Angel Rogers.”

Angel was sitting on the car seat of an old truck. It probably was once inside the rusted ford that was parked and slowly getting swallowed by a wild black berry bush at the side of the house. She had her legs up on the seat and had one foot crossed over a knee. Her foot bounced like it was moving to some music.She was wearing dark purple capri leggings and bright neon green jellies that matched her green and black mini skirt. She had a baggy black cut up t-shirt that she wore over a purple tank top that she belted we three belts on her waist. She wore a ton of silver and black bangles and had big round green earrings. She was reading a book and I didn’t know why that seemed so odd to me. A Rogers reading a book seemed like a cat barking, it just didn’t fit.

“She dresses so cool.” Wendy whispered. “Just like Madonna.” Wendy was looking at Angel like she actually could be Madonna sitting on some white trash lawn on some white trash broken ford front seat car cushion. Very Madonna like, I thought bitterly to myself. I pulled at the black jellie bracelets that I wore on my wrist. I knew I had a little tinge of jealousy at the way Angel looked. I knew it wouldn’t be that hard to do something similar, but I wasn’t ready to give up my long black skirts or pants that matched with my long sleeved black shirts and sweaters and my black shoes. My grandmother would probably have a heart attack if I wore any color especially something as bright as neon green.

“Do you like Madonna?” Wendy asked Roseland.

“She’s okay.”

“Okay?” Wendy gasped.

Okay. I thought. What does she mean okay?

“I like Michael Jackson.” She said.

I guessed I could understand that, but then on second thought I decided I couldn’t and just as I was about to argue my case as to why there was no way to compare Michael Jackson to Madonna there was a loud, “Hey!”

We all three stopped walking and turned to look in the direction of the yell. Angel was standing on the lawn with one hand on her hip and the other dropped at her side and holding onto the book she was reading. She always stood like she was a teenager. She crossed her legs like teenage girls and she talked like teenage girls. My mother would have said she was trying to hard to grow up too fast. Wendy’s mother would have called her a slut.

“What are you doing?” She called the question over to us. “Why are you standing on my lawn and walking on my property?”

She was about to get on my nerves. Scared or not scared I decided if she tried anything I would take my chance to just try and hit her.

“Um”, Wendy began…

“Um, What?” Angel said mimicking Wendy. She walked over toward us and I thought that this was it.

“We’re going to my house.” Roseland said, with a hard and snotty tone in her voice. “And, we’re not on your lawn we are on the street which is city property.

Angle stood right in front of us with an intimidating frown on her face. “I know,” she said, and then suddenly she smiled. “I’m just kidding. Where do you live?” She asked looking at Roseland.

“I live down the back road behind Billy Lane near the creak.” Roseland still had a firm tone to her voice, and I mentally cheered her on.

“Oh where all the hippies are living.” She said looking at Roseland knowingly.

“Yea.” Said Roseland. “My parents are hippies.

Wendy leaned toward my ears and whispered, “What’s a hippie?”

NaNo -NaNo Day 1: Let’s do this

Genre: YA fiction
Time: 1986
First Draft during 2013 NaNo challenge.

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Wendy was my best friend. If I could actually say I had any best friends I would give that title to Wendy, but in truth, I never wanted a best friend. I don’t need one, but Wendy does, and she’s a good girl so we stick together. We’re both losers. None of the other kids at school want to hang out with us, and that’s A-OK with me. I know it hurts Wendy, but the kids are all mean to her so I can understand why it bothers her. Before me she didn’t have any friends. It’s not her fault. She’s got maybe the worst home in our town, but kids don’t care about that stuff at least the parts that matter about that stuff, like how your parents treat you or raise you or if they do some terrible things to you. Kids just care about if you’re normal or not. If your not normal you suck and if you are normal you need to be the right kind of normal. They all suck.

I used to have a lot of friends. I grew up on the ridge in a big house, and we had two cars, and cable as soon as it came to our town, and we had a VCR before anyone else on the street, and my dad had the best stereo system on the block. Our town is really small. There are only two elementary schools. The schools separate the kids who live on the north ridge canyon from the south ridge canyon. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the north or the south both parts have people that have more money than anyone that lives in the foothills. My dad told me that money is not the most important thing in life that family is and besides all the people who live in Ridgetown think they are rich but they don’t have squat. I know this is true because my dad would take us to San Francisco twice a year to visit his brother who was a lawyer and they would take us to places where the richest people would eat and play. It was cool at the time because my parents would buy clothes for my brother and me and I would always have clothes that no other girl would have. This made me popular, plus because I lived on the ridge and my parents would host parties for other parents and kids in the neighborhood and we’d had Halloween and Christmas parties every year since I was little. My friend’s and I knew how our lives were going to be. We would go to Ridgeview elementary and then go to Ridgeview middle school where we would be put with the kids from South Ridgeview elementary which would be great because there would be new boys and when we were thirteen we knew we would want to meet new boys, then we would go to Ridgeview High School, and we’d probably be cheerleaders or do a sport or be in choir and then we’d be adults and that just meant we’d have our own family and have some kind of work that gave us money to live like our parents, but we didn’t think much about it because we just wanted to be teenagers and go to high school where things were going to be out of this world fun.

But then my brother died. Then after that my mother died. My father might as well of died. One night, he woke me and put my in our truck and he drove me up to the Pines, the small mountain town above Ridgeview where my grandparents lived. It was nighttime and it was dark and cold. He put me on the porch. I stood there shivering and holding onto my comforter as I watched him put boxes of my stuff on the porch around my body like he was building a fortress around me. I didn’t know why or when he had packed up my things. The lights from my grandparents house flickered on and my dad worked faster. I had managed to mumble, “Daddy, what are we doing?” He didn’t even look at me he just kept dropping things onto the porch and then he climbed back into the truck as my grandma and Grandpa opened the door to see their son slam the door of his truck and drive off. My grandmother managed to yell out, “Steven?” As he pulled out of the gravel driveway with my grandpa in nothing but a white tee shirt boxers a terrycloth maroon robe and pink slippers chased after him. I remember thinking two things. One, I had hoped that my grandpa didn’t have a heart attack and two, why do grandpas all seem to sleep in the same exact thing? That was the last time I saw my dad and that was a year ago the summer before my fifth grade year.

It wasn’t just these things that made me stop having friends.I think for a normal kids moving from the Ridge to the Pines would suck because you have to say good-bye to your friend’s but like I said our town was small and kids from all the other small towns went to the schools in Ridgeview. The Pines still fell into the same district as the North Ridge so as my grandma said, I’d still get to go to the same school so I would at least have my friends. At least. People didn’t stop liking me because my brother died or because my mom died or because my dad totally ditched me. Kids are cruel, but that’s way too below the belt and besides I was popular since kindergarten. You don’t know you’re popular but when you’re in third grade and you look back when you were a kid in Kindergarten and you remember that you always had other kids sleeping around you during nap time you know you’re liked. That was me. I stopped having friends because I stopped wanting them. If you want some good solid enemies tell them that you don’t like them anymore and that’s the best way to do it. Why would I not friends when it would seem like I need them? Because I wasn’t feeling better fast enough. Most kids here that I new all had both sets of grandparents unless a grandpa died young in one of the wars that happened before we were born. The worst thing that happened was if someone’s parents got divorced. That was seriously bad, and we’d huddle around our friend consoling her like her parents had died. Then someone did die. Someone young, my brother and someone beautiful my mother, and they tried to huddle around me and console me like my parents had gotten a divorce. Then my dad abandoned me. At first they tried to be there but what could they do? So they waited for me to feel better and when after a couple of months I stopped feeling better they got impatient. Then I started painting my nails black, and they got uncomfortable, and I started wearing black and they didn’t agree, and then it happened one of the mom’s said, “Brianna is going into her dark phase.” And, then one kid said, “When are you going to be normal again?” And another kid said, “You’re totally getting weird.” And then I got mad because when your brother dies then your mom, and then your dad leaves your supposed to get over it, and go back to shopping with your friends and not be so depressing all the time. And then when some snotty kid that used to be your friend in class says, “you just want attention cause you mommy died,” you say something. I screamed, “Fuck you!” And then I got taken to the principal where they asked me how an eleven year old girl learns such bad words and I told them Showtime, and they suspended me, but just for a day because of the sad circumstances of my life. And because now I’m dark and I say bad words I’m bad, and when kids that were my friends try to tease me at school and I jump on that kids back and scream and hit him and make him cry. I get sent home from school for three days because even though my circumstances are bad they can’t condone my behavior. And soon kids stop teasing me because they know I’ll hit them, and they know I’ll say a bad word to them because I don’t care and the teachers wonder if I’ll get better, and my old friends decide to snicker out or arms reach, but they never call me a looser because they know they’ll get. I’ll take a tooth or half their hair they’ll get it. So they leave me alone and they forget I was their friend and we had the best Halloween parties on the block. They forget my mom died. They forget my brother died and my father is gone. They forget they just see “not normal.” But they know they’ll get it if they make me mad they’ll get it good.

The only good thing about school was that it got me away from my grandparents house. They were really old even for grandparents. They had my dad later in life as my dad would say. I think my grandma was forty or something so my grandparents were like twenty years older than my friends grandparents. They were nice but they were not ready for a girl that was about to start her period any day now. They also were not ready to have their only son disappear off the face of the world. For a whole year they told me that my dad was grieving and that he would be back. I stopped listening. I think my grandma still says it but my grandpa doesn’t say anything he just watches the news. I’m not bad to my grandparents. In fact, I don’t do anything, but write in my diary, draw pictures and go for walks. I could do bad things if I wanted to because I know there are bad kids at school. Some of the other sixth graders that have bad homes and who can get cigarettes and smoke, but I don’t care about them or anything. If I was a bad kid I don’t know what they’d do maybe try to send me away or something or put me into foster care where some of the bad kids go, but only I fight at school when someone gets in my face, and no one gets in my face.

“Do you think Mrs. Crabtree is going to let us have a Halloween party in class this year?” Wendy and I were sitting on one of the outdoor lunch tables at school watching some kids play kick ball.

“Marissa said in class that Halloween is for babies and anyone that dresses up is a baby. Then she asked me what I was gonna be for Halloween and then she laughed at me.” She said.

“What do you care what stupid Marissa thinks? I know she’s just being dumb and trying to bug you because she’s gonna dress up. Everyone dresses up. She’s just probably trying to get you to not dress up to make fun of you. No matter what she’s gonna try to make fun of you.” I rubbed some dirt off the canvas of my black tennis shoes. “You should just tell her to fuck it.”

Wendy was always shocked if I used a bad word. It didn’t matter if it was the word fuck or ass or shit or fart head. She’s suck in her breath like she’d been punched in the stomach and she’d cover her mouth as if my bad words could get in her head that way. It wasn’t like she didn’t hear the worst most baddest words ever coming from her mom and step dad every single day. Some of my best words come from her mom when she’s screaming at Wendy. “I can’t say that. I can never say that. I’d get sent home and me mom would kill me.”

That was true Wendy’s mom would kill her.

No One Said Life Was Fair

“Some of us are born losers.” My mother said, “but not you honey, no, you’re special.

It was the 80’s, and I was in high school. I wasn’t exactly sure where her words were coming from, but I could guess. She had just lost her job or maybe it was her boyfriend or maybe both. Something prompted her to say it. Maybe it was me. Maybe I was crying. I cried a lot in high school. Maybe I asked her why something didn’t work out for her; why those people at the store sneered when she took out her food stamps; why we never had any money; how come the IRS was auditing her, a poor woman, who made less than 10,000.00 a year, and not some rich white man who made over 10,000.00 a month.

“Life is not fair!”

“No one said life is fair. Life.” She paused and I could see the pain and sadness in her face. “Life is not fair honey. Life is hard.”

 

The day I got attacked at school by a group of four or five kids I decided I was ready to throw the towel in on this whole life thing.

“Kids are mean.” My mother said. “They’re just jealous.” She said. “You’re so beautiful.” She said.

“You say that because you’re my mom.”

“That’s not true.” She was shocked that I would accuse her of such a thing.

But it was true. She did say it because she was my mom. I knew this because we live in a democracy, and the majority rules, and the majority of kids at school said I was scum.

Kids can be so cruel.

I never told her what happened. I never told her about getting held against the lockers. Never told her about hiding under the bathroom sink. I could never explain the level of humiliation. It was too hard to tell her. I felt like too much of a failure. A failure to her, and to her God. If I told her about what was going on at school, what was happening to her baby girl, that her baby was stupid and ugly, that she was scum; trash. I couldn’t tell her God did not look upon me as more special than the neighbor’s kids. I couldn’t tell her that my life was not enough for her to keep on living. If she knew the truth would she die? No, I knew she wouldn’t die, but my pain was too great and I couldn’t carry the hurt she would feel. I knew she would blame herself. She didn’t teach me to be strong. She couldn’t help me. I learned from example. I needed her to find something else worth living for something inside herself.

“God brought you to me, honey.” She touched my face and her eyes sparkled with love. “You’re the only reason I’m alive.”

 

**************

 

I had this dream. A desire. A want. It hit me one day. It hit me hard. I had been out of school for a few years lolling about helpless trying to figure out what to do with my self. I could not for the life of me figure out what I was doing on this planet and then it hit me. I wanted to work for National Geographic. I considered my self a conservationist and a humanitarian, and I grew up with the magazine. My fantasy life began to unfold. There I was traveling, interviewing scientists, trudging through the jungles of exotic landscapes, meeting people of diverse and varied cultures, becoming educated and sharing that education with the world at large. Yes! I was going to write for them. Take amazing cover worthy photographs for them. I would be giving people the opportunity to open a book and discover Macedonia or Jane Goodall or the realities of a nuclear fall out. I was going to go back to school to study writing, and photography and, of course, science.

Sometimes I miss her. Mother. We live so far from each other now. Her love crushes, sometimes, to a point where I can not breath, and I need to be away from her. But, I worry. I worry all the time like she might die. Our relationship is not like in television or in the parenting books, and sometimes I want a mother.

I called to tell her about my new plan for my future.

“Mom, I’m going to work for National Geographic.” I said this after mentioning signing up for science courses.

She is silent on the other side of the phone.

“Mom?”

“What?” She says.

“What do you think?”

“What do I think about what?” She says.

I’m annoyed. “What do you think about my idea?”

“What do I think about your idea? What do I think?”

“Yeah.”

“You want to be a scientist? You? We’ve never been any good at math. You know that. You’ll fail.” She was beginning to yell.

I was silent now. It was the only way I knew how to communicate.

“What!” She barked. “What? Are you mad now?”

“Well, yes, I’m a little upset.”

“Ya, wanted to know what I thought.” She said.

“Well, I didn’t expect you to be so harsh.”

“What did you expect.”

“You’re my mom!” I was yelling now. “You’re suppose to be supportive! It was just an idea.”

“Well how ’bout this: next time you call why don’t you just tell me what you want me to say.”

“Mom, I was trying to tell you what I wanted to do with my life.”

“Life? Do you wanna know what life is?” She asked. Anger and something heavy like a decrepit house shook in her voice. “Life is you’re born poor, you struggle and struggle, and next thing you know you’re old scrubbing some person’s floor as you’re just waiting around to die.”

“I’m not talking to you.” I hung up. I knew she was talking about herself. I knew she was scrubbing people’s floors. I knew she wanted to die. I knew it was about her, but I couldn’t separate us. She said, we’ve never been good at math. She couldn’t separate us.

I never had a mother, I thought this after hanging up the phone. I had an adult child. It was like Mork and Mindy when Jonathan Winters joined the cast only it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny when Jonathan Winters joined either.

 

She called the next day.

“Honey, I’m so sorry. It’s my hormones, they’re off. I’m going through menopause. I believe in you. you’d be a great scientist.”

I’d be a terrible scientist. I didn’t want to be a scientist, but it didn’t matter. I would have believed her if she hadn’t been talking this way all my life. Her philosophy has always been life is hard, we are born poor we will die poor; life is not fair and some of us are just born losers. Menopause was only going to make it worse.

**********

My mom’s sister died when I was five. It was an “accidental” suicide. She had hurt her knee and to kill the pain she swallowed a bottle of codeine and washed the pills down with a bottle of vodka. Ta! Dah!

I can still remember the night she died. Mother woke me from sleep, and half carried me to her grey-blue Volkswagen bug. She had loved that bug. I don’t remember the drive. I remember the sound of gravel beneath the tires. I remember my mother’s face terse and strained. I remember the flashing lights sparkling like an amusement park. I remember it was warm out and I was wearing my pjs the one with the built in footies. I was holding my blanket like a doll. My mother pushed me down onto the black vinyl seat. It was the 70’s and children were allowed to ride in the front. She leaned over me and her long blonde hair draped over her face like a veil and cascaded into mine. She was so young then, only 26 or 27. Her hair was golden and the lights from the ambulance and police flooded around her head and reflected against her hair. She was like an angel.

“You keep your head down. Don’t you dare look out the window you understand. You understand?”

I nodded yes. She slammed the door leaving the car rocking gently. I stared up at the tiny dots in the white ceiling cover of the bug and watched as the lights dance as my aunt died.

 

I don’t remember what she looked like, my aunt. She had red hair. I know my mother loved her more than anyone else in the world aside from me. My memories of her are nebulous. I’m not positive they are memories of truth or if they are memories of stories. I think I have a memory of sitting on her lap. The both of us shrouded in white. She said I was like an angel. The freckles on my face were angel kisses. The mark in my eye was a starburst. I was so special God had picked me out and gave me to my mother. I was a beautiful child. We were all angels.

“For some of us honey, life is so hard, and you just get so tired of living, and you just want to go to sleep, just for a little while, and I think that’s what your aunt did. I think she just wanted to take a nap.”

Angels are never alive in the first place.

****************

I hadn’t seen my mother in two years. The last time I saw her she was impoverished with worn holes in her clothing. She lived in a room and took care of an elderly man. The elderly man whom she lived with was like her new child and she loved him dearly. She had always been such a kind woman. After he died my mother was never compensated for her time, and since she had no education, and no back-up she became jobless at 56. She was living with her boyfriend an ex-junkie and an ex-con who for some reason could not work. Something to do with his previous career. Then the stroke happened. The boyfriend forgot to tell me about the stroke. The phone call came weeks later from her.

“I had a stroke. They are going to evict me from my house. Why didn’t you visit me? You don’t love me.” She cried.

“I didn’t know.” I whispered. I didn’t know.

She cried more and more.

I feel helpless when she cries because I can’t take care of her. I’m still poor. I failed her. I followed in her footsteps. Born poor stay poor.

I had a dream I was at my mother’s house and a semi-truck ran purposefully through her house. I managed to jump out of the way, but it ran over her sleeping body.

 

************

She identifies herself through me and I try to separate us. She reaches for me and I can feel her tugging my essence like she’s trying to shove me back inside her. She steps through me and eats me till I feel like there is hardly any of me left and I am her or her sister or her cruel mother. Who am I? Am I my mother? A born loser? Is it only a matter of days till I scrub the floors of other people and wait and pray for death? When I die will I have to apologize to God for being a failure?

 

Conversation with GOD:

“It’s not my fault. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.”

“When are you going to make some money honey? So you can take care of me?” My mother has interrupted my conversation with God.

“You’re not old mom! You’re only in your fifties!”

“But, I made you special,” God says shaking his white glowing orb of a head.

“I know Lord, my mom told me that, but I didn’t feel special. It didn’t protect me and I grew up with majority rules. Special wasn’t enough.”

“Please don’t let me die in a home. Please take care of me when I’m old. Don’t leave me.” Mom is crying again. I hate it when she cries. She doesn’t notice I’m talking to God. She just wants me not God. “I hate it here. I want out of here.”

“I know momma. I’m trying.”

“It’s not fair Lord.” I say.

“Well, honey,” The Lord places his ethereal hands on his omnipotent hips, “who ever told you life was fair?”

“Nobody did.”

He actually looks like a god with the brilliant light shining through his akimbo stance.

The semi-trucks growl in the distance as the houses shake.

 

 

Back to the Short Story Board

It has been awhile since I have touched any of my short stories or worked on anything related to this blog.

I recently pulled out some old work, Gunter McWilliams and Ishi two short stories that I had felt had reached completion and both of which have been rejected. I didn’t send them out to too many places so I’m not heart broken.

I had my friend check them out. She is a great reader and had some interesting feedback.

Gunther is science fiction and was a timed writing for the Short Story writing contest. I came in fifth place which I think is pretty good, but the pages were limited. Now that I have no page limit, my roommate has suggested that I expand on the story. She brought up something I hadn’t noticed, and that was that the character is a bit lecherous, and pathetic, and that I should explore that part of his development more. Of course, I wouldn’ say those traits are actually developments.

The second story Ishi is based in truth, but I have desperately tried to make it a fiction piece. She said it was too broken up that the vignettes worked in the sci fi but not Ishi. I have to tell the truth with this story, as uncomfortable as it is to tell.

I probably wont touch them until my novel’s final draft (I think final) is completed. I have 121 more pages to go.

My Antheneum is coming to an end and what I have learned through this experience is that I write a lot more than I give myself credit. I had no idea that I had managed to write as much as I do, only I want to write more.

Step up to the Plate More Often

This is an image I took in Saigon, Vietnam las...

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I write. I write every day. Still I am not writing enough, not the right writing. I’m journaling every day which certainly has its merits, in fact I would never have written my novel Zizkov if it wasn’t for my daily journaling.

I started a new blog post, that I am only doing for one year. It is about journaling everyday for a year. I decided to do it because I was curious if I could and because one day I wondered; if this was my last year of life what would I do with it, then that translated into, what do I do every day. Sometimes the days just rush and blur.

But, it’s still not enough. I need to be doing more creative writing. Exercising my brain. I’ve decided that at least one day a week I have to write a new flash fiction or timed writing piece or a writing exercise. Once a week. That isn’t that much. I wont have time to go back and flesh anything out until I complete my novel, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the practice.

The more I swing the more times I will hit and eventually I will know the exact speed and curve of the ball.